Muscular Dystrophy In Children – Everything You Need To Know

Muscular Dystrophy In Children

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Has your child been diagnosed with a condition known as muscular dystrophy? Is it a new term that you hear for the first time? Do you want to know more about the condition that is affecting your child? Want to know ways to help her get well?

If you are looking for answers relating to the muscular dystrophy condition in your child, read our post and get all the necessary information on the same.

What Is Muscular Dystrophy In Children?

Muscular dystrophy is a condition or group of diseases in which your child’s muscles grow weak over time. It is a genetic disorder that is of different types and occurs due to missing or incorrect genetic information. The missing information does not allow your child’s body to make the proteins that will help keep the muscles in his body health. As a result, muscular dystrophy increases.

In case of muscular dystrophy, your child will find it difficult to use his muscle strength to perform simple daily activities. The difficulty that occurs i

n the muscles can gradually lead to other health concerns as well (1).

Types Of Muscular Dystrophy In Children:

There are different types of muscular dystrophy, but the one type that affects children the most is Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Here are the types of muscular dystrophy that are common during childhood:

1. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy:

It is one of the most common types of muscular dystrophy and 50 % of those who have the condition suffer from the same.

  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy most commonly affects boys, even though girls can also get affected in a minor way.
  • One-third of boys who suffer from Duchenne muscular dystrophy may not have it as a hereditary condition. It is possible that the gene that responsible for the condition goes through spontaneous mutation or sudden abnormal changes.
  • In case of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the affected child will need the help of a wheelchair. While some children may need wheelchair assistance as early as eight years of age, others may need it during their teenage years.
  • In some cases, Duchenne muscular dystrophy can also lead to a condition known as scoliosis, in which the spine starts curving towards the side. In case of scoliosis, one hip or one shoulder becomes slightly elevated than the other.

[ Read: Symptoms Of Scoliosis In Children ]

2. Congenital Muscular Dystrophy:

It can affect both boys and girls, and the symptoms can be seen right from birth or before the child turns two years of age.

  • In some cases, congenital muscular dystrophy can progress slowly and cause only mild disabilities.
  • In severe cases, it could have a rapid effect and cause severe impairment.

3. Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy:

Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy can also affect both boys and girls.

  • It affects the muscles of the hips and shoulders first.
  • The child may find it difficult to lift the front portion of the foot, often trip while walking.

4. Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy:

Myotonic muscular dystrophy can also affect both boys and girls and may occur right after birth, during childhood or anytime during the adult years.

  • In case of myotonic muscular dystrophy, there is progressive muscle weakness and wastage of the muscles.
  • In most cases, the smaller muscles, like the muscles of the face, the jaw or the neck, are the first to be affected.
  • Some of the symptoms include cataract, in where there is a clouding effect in the vision. Other symptoms include; feeling sleepy all the time or sleeping all the time, cardiac arrhythmia, where the heartbeat becomes slow or irregular and problems with swallowing properly or stiffness in the muscles.
  • Myotonic muscular dystrophy is a slow moving type of muscular dystrophy and often the changes from one stage to another may take years.

[ Read: Broken Tailbone In Children ]

5. Becker Muscular Dystrophy:

Becker muscular dystrophy also affects boys.

  • It is similar to the Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and the affected areas are also the same.
  • However, some symptoms may vary and are often less severe than in the case of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

6. Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy:

The particular type of muscular dystrophy can affect both boys and girls.

  • The most common areas affected by the condition are the arms, feet, and neck.
  • It also leads to progressive weakness in the muscles and can result in more serious forms of health risks like heart blockage (2).

[ Read: Marfan Syndrome In Children ]

Symptoms Of Muscular Dystrophy In Children:

In most cases, a child with muscular dystrophy will normally grow in the first few years of life, without any apparent disability or difficulty. The exact parts of the body, where the symptoms will first show up, depends on the type of muscular dystrophy your child has and the severity of the same. Also, the most common type of muscular dystrophy will show its symptoms during childhood. In the other types of the condition, the muscular dystrophy symptoms in children will not be noticeable until well into the adult years.

However, some signs can suddenly start showing up, that may be a signal towards the first episodes of muscular dystrophy. The symptoms of muscular dystrophy that show up in children are of the Duchenne muscular dystrophy condition. You may first notice the same between the second and the third year. Here are the most common symptoms of Duchenne muscular dystrophy:

  • Your child has trouble in trying to get up from a lying down or sitting position.
  • Your child goes through frequent falls without any obvious reason.
  • There is a lot of stiffness in your child’s muscles that are also accompanied by pain.
  • Your child has difficulty in running around or jumping.
  • You notice that your child often walks on his toes instead keeping the feet flat on the floor.
  • The calf muscles of your child are large in comparison to other children his age.
  • There are other learning disabilities that your child is going through (3).

[ Read: Types of Learning Disabilities In Children ]

Treating Muscular Dystrophy In Children:

Depending on the type and severity of the condition, your doctor may suggest the following:

  • Medications that can help improve muscle strength and delay the progression of the condition.
  • Therapy to improve muscle strength and delay the progression of the condition.
  • Surgery, especially in case of spine curvature.

[ Read: Effective Treatments For Torticollis In Children ]

While muscular dystrophy can be a difficult condition to deal with, make sure you speak to your child’s doctor the moment you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above. Timely care and treatment can help you prevent the condition from progressing.

If you have had an experience with muscular dystrophy in kids, do share your experiences here.

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